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Stars: Michael Stahl-David, Odette Yustman, T J Miller, Jessica Lucas, Lizzy Caplan, Mike Vogel

Director: Matt Reeves

A monster movie with a novel idea - well, actually, its only idea. Owing much to the 1950s' classic The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Matt Reeves' film updates the concept by shooting the entire action on someone's video camera.

While 20somethings are holding a farewell party for one of their number - a prologue that goes on for a tediously unnecessary 20 minutes - a sea monster erupts from New York Harbor, capsizing a tanker and beheading the Statue of Liberty.

Deadly spider-like creatures - presumably prehistoric parasites - drop from it as it devastates New York. And the video of the party turns into a record of the night, as buildings topple, the military ineffectively fires missiles at the creature, and the population of Manhattan flees the city.

As a showcase for unknown young talent (none of whom, unfortunately, shine that brightly), the film serves a secondary purpose. And there's plenty of tension in the action scenes, especially when the four main survivors wander down a tube tunnel and are set upon by the spiders.

The film can't handle its own lulls, though - coughs reverberated throughout the cinema in the dull bits - and it takes too long to get going, although the prologue does help pad its slim runtime (73 minutes, plus endless creeping credits) close to feature length. Despite its faults, though, it should be a monster hit.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by deluxe.
85 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 26 Jan 2008